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How to free Linux Kernel page cache and/or inode and dentry caches

Kernels 2.6.16 and newer provide a mechanism to have the kernel drop the page cache and/or inode and dentry caches on command, which can help free up a lot of memory.

Writing to this will cause the kernel to drop clean caches, dentries and inodes from memory, causing that memory to become free.

To free pagecache:
echo 1 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches

To free dentries and inodes:
echo 2 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches

To free pagecache, dentries and inodes:
echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches

As this is a non-destructive operation, and dirty objects are not free-able, the user should run "sync" first in order to make sure all cached objects are freed.


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